As a a local digital agency owner in regional Australia my rates wouldn’t be considered to be  “entry level.” But when you’re a small business and your budget for digital marketing is entry level, you might consider going offshore.

There are three main reasons to work with offshore agencies. They are based on price, lack of local skills and having had a poor experience with locals.

One of the main reasons to work with digital agencies offshore, particularly in developing nations, is price. The average Australian agency cannot compete with a digital team in Manila, or Ho Chi Minh City. Or even Colombo. When you’re paying your staff the equivalent of $6 per hour against $80 an hour for skilled and experienced workers, then there’s going to be a gap. And while it is true that you get what you pay for, not all of us can buy that Prada clutch. Sometimes we just have to settle for the Kmart handbag for $20.

Another reason to work with offshore teams is that, quite often you just can’t find the skills or experience you need for your project in regional centres. There’s not a lot of Node.js skills in Alice Springs. Or DotNet developers in Darwin. And just try to find a full-stack app developer in somewhere like Mackay, Cairns or Wagga Wagga. Offshore agencies often have access to very capable teams of contracted and permanent staff with skills that cover a broad spectrum of abilities. Quite often you’re buying the equivalent of a full-time staff member, but that time is shared across several people and several skillsets. You’re = buying 40 hours of work, rather than buying a staff member. It’s actually quite smart.

And finally, there is a growing number of businesses who feel like they’re forced to look further afield because they’ve had such bad experience with local digital agencies. And to be honest, even I haven’t been an angel here. Every business has growing pains, and when a digital agency grows rapidly, the first things to be dropped are communication and customer service. And Lord knows, we have had more than our challenges there. The challenge for a business dealing with any digital people, is that if you’ve had communication and expectation issues in the past, you’ll probably have them in the future. No digital agency can read your mind, even though most will try their best to get a great set of instructions and a creative brief out of you. Just make sure that what you want is clear. Make sure what you expect to be delivered, when it’s to be delivered and how much it’s going to cost, is abundantly clear.

There are definitely times when outsourcing your website, social media or digital marketing offshore is a good option for price, skills and getting a better result. But there’s just as many reasons not to. Particularly if you’re very picky, have strong opinions on design or tend be one of those people who has no idea what they want until they see what they don’t want. Endless back and forth, changes and rework are a lot easier to do with an local agency or freelancer than it is with someone offshore. While locals tend to be a lot more flexible with what extras they’ll do to keep a client happy, you’ll won’t get that kind of flexibility offshore without incurring additional costs.